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Declassify minutes on project approvals

 | June 18, 2012

Daring the Penang chief minister to put his money where his mouth is, Teng Chang Yeow asks him to release the meeting minutes to back his claim against BN.

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang state government should declassify relevant meeting minutes of two authorities to substantiate its claim that the previous administration approved 37 high-density and hillside projects above 75m or 250ft.

State Barisan Nasional chairman Teng Chang Yeow said the state government should declassify the meeting minutes of the state planning committee and the island council (MPPP) building and planning committee.

“The state government should declassify the minutes in which the alleged projects were approved by the previous government,” he told reporters after a state BN meeting here today.

However, he was rather confident that the previous BN administration did not approve any projects above the limited height.

He recalled that even a project above 75m that was approved for the hilly Paya Terubong area was not carried out after the state government conditioned the developer with stringent rules.

“As far as I’m concerned the previous government did not approve any projects above 75m. We did not even adopt the national hillside development guidelines.

“We had our own guidelines,” he said, expressing concern with the rapid hillside and high density development taking place in Penang.

Many NGOs and community interests groups had recently voiced out their concerns over high density, hillside development and property price boom in the state, especially on the island.

They said the people of Penang cherished the natural beauty of their state and would not want to live in a crowded concrete jungle like Hong Kong, where “we can’t even see the sky”.

The state government also came under fire for not upgrading roads, improving the traffic system and public transport to accommodate the surge in population due to the “unscrupulous” construction of high-rise buildings.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng however accused the previous BN administration of being equally guilty in approving similar projects.

Now, Teng dared Lim to declassify the relevant minutes to clear the air on the issue.

Draft new guidelines

Last week, Gerakan state local government bureau head Teh Leong Meng urged the Penang government to discard the real estate development guidelines it currently used.

He wanted the government to replace them with a new comprehensive set that protected the rights and interests of local residents.

He said the administration must consult the locals before drafting the new guidelines.

Teh said that Lim’s administration adopted the new guidelines in June 2010 to allow high-rise buildings “everywhere in the state without any control”.

The new guidelines allowed the density of high-rise buildings to increase from 30 units per acre to 87 units and, in the case of low-cost houses, to 120 units. Height had increased three to four times from eight-storey to 32-storey buildings.

“This was the chief reason for the mushrooming of posh condominiums and apartments, which in turn has caused house prices to skyrocket.

“Ordinary people cannot afford to buy homes in Penang today,” he said.

[main photo from aliran.com]


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